Symposium: Unfixing Images, A discussion on imagery in the flux of political action

Auditorium, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (NL)

Organized by PhDArts candidates Mikala Hyldig Dal, Riccardo Giacconi and Andrea Stultiens. UNFIXING IMAGES is a two-day symposium that will attempt to sketch out a model within which we can situate imagery in the flux of political action.

The symposium UNFIXING IMAGES focuses on visual documents that develop within processes of political resistance. As bi-products of larger socio-political struggles these documents can be understood both as visual traces of “lived politics” and as tools that can diversify hegemonial historiographies. In this context images are understood as “variational characters”: their “meaning” is inherently unstable as it is intimately linked to the temporality of the processes that bring them forth and continually influence how they are seen.

The symposium is divided into three sub-topics that reflect the research outlook of the individual candidates:

“Variations on Simone Pianetti: Proto-political acts and marginal modalities of transmission”

Riccardo Giacconi has invited his long-term collaboration partner anthropologist and filmmaker Andrea Morbio (Paris) to do a performative lecture on the case of Simone Pianetti. Simone Pianetti was a 19th Century Italian mass-murderer whose figure became a popular character in Italian puppet theater and among North American anarchist groups. Morbio discusses the variational status of documents that refer to real-life events for which there are no certified documentation and that thus arise from processes of mysterious, unofficial and marginal modes of transmission.

“Unfixed Photography: narrative and representation(s) of past(s) in contemporary African photography”

Andrea Stultiens has invited photographer Nii Obodai to present his work and discuss the representation of history on and of the African continent. In the context of Stultiens’ event, photography is dealt with as a medium that is not only of a variational status but unfixed in its very nature; that is, the “reality” of the representation is of a highly tentative sort, oscillating between various temporalities and modes of vision and narrativity. Nii Obodai will in his presentation revisit his work ‘Who knows tomorrow’. He will discuss documents that inspired him, the recorded conversations he had with his father (the first Ghanaian Mayor of Accra after independence) and the way they influenced his thinking and image production. He will reflect on the images made by him as part of the project that have not (yet) reached audiences.

“Eye-snipers. Iconoclastic image practices in the context of political uprising”

Mikala Hyldig Dal has invited historian James Noyes to discuss his book The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-breaking in Christianity and Islam as part of a performative lecture that sets out to examine interconnections between representational paradigm shifts and political turning points. The images dealt with in this context are defined by perpetual provisionality: they change, erase and reconfigure in the rhythm of progressing events.

The format of UNFIXING IMAGES merges classical research and presentations with artistic interventions that reflect on images while abstaining from visuality. The symposium will be broadcast live via a pirate radio transmitter, and an edit will be made available as audio podcast online.


Thursday 19 March

14.30 Introduction by Mikala Hyldig Dal
14.45 -15.30 Collective Listening to Images.

Room bb.105 15.45 - 17.45
Presentation by Andrea Stultiens, ‘The King has been Pictured, Long Live the King.’
Presentation by Nii Obodai Provencal, ‘Photographing a history of tomorrow.’

Friday 20 March

10.00 - 12.30 Performative lecture by Andrea Morbio and Riccardo Giacconi, ‘Variations on Simone Pianetti.’
Commented radio documentary by Riccardo Giacconi, ‘El espiritado.’

13.30 - 16.30
Lecture by James Noyes, ‘The Politics of Iconoclasm.’
Performative lecture by Mikala Hyldig Dal, ‘On Killing Images.’
Final notes and discussion.



Participation is reserved for the PhDarts candidates and invited guests. Limited seats for guests are available and reservation is mandatory. Send an email to